Get crafty: dirty fingers, mucky boots, don't mind the mess
From digital detoxes to homemade pizzas and int-sized hikes, here are five great ideas for getting the most out of this weekend!
1. Digital detox
One way to make the time special is for everyone to swear off email and social media for the day. Parents too!
2. Culinary experiences
Cook breakfast out in the open air (even if it's only in the garden)
Eat at a restaurant outside of your comfort zone: If the only restaurant you ever take your children to serves burgers and chips, bite the bullet and try something new. They may be more ready for it than you think. The worst that can happen is that you'll discover that they don't like falafel, or sushi, or ramen.
3. Free outdoor excursions:
Climb A Mountain: The Sugarloaf in Co Wicklow and Coomshinguan in Co Waterford are both great family options.
Head for the Nearest Beach: Don't under-estimate the timeless appeal of a beach, even if the sun isn't shining. Bring a picnic, collect shells, paddle and explore the rock pools.
Go To The Park: Investigate the parks within range and make the effort to visit one that you don't usually get to. Playgrounds are great these days.
4. Home-based activities:
Grow things to eat: Grab a few flower-pots or window boxes, some potting compost and packets of seeds, or plants from the garden centre - but only things that the children choose themselves, such as strawberries and sweet cherry tomatoes. There's no instant gratification, but it'll be fun when there's something to harvest.
Make home-made pizzas - they'll taste so much better and be healthier than the ones you get in the freezer cabinet, and children can customise them to include all their favourite toppings. Donal Skehan says that he used to make them all the time when he was a kid, and look where it got him. There's a good recipe for Rainy Day Mediterranean Pizza on www.donalskehan.com.
Organise a restaurant at home: Let them issue the invitations, plan the menu, do the shopping, prepare the food (supervised if necessary) and set the table. It's fun to pick a theme - Italian, Chinese, Mexican for instance - and decorate and pick music to suit the cuisine.
Paint a picture: Painting with children is messy but fun. Tiger sell acrylic paints and small ready-made canvases for only a few euros, and you'll be amazed by how good the splodges created by your five-year-old look if you make an effort to keep the colours separate and the brushes clean.
5. If you can't think of anything else activities...
Swimming. Tennis. Cinema. Indoor Play Centre. Bowling.